Degrees in healthcare administration prepare students for careers as medical and health services managers, executives, and administrators. These individuals might manage an entire facility or a specific clinical department, and their responsibilities will include planning, directing, and coordinating medical and health services. They might have to manage hospital finances, ensure the enforcement of health laws and regulations, and work to improve the efficiency and the quality of services being delivered. Accredited online colleges for healthcare administration offer degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels, but individuals with a master’s degree in healthcare administration will likely find greater employment opportunities.
Healthcare Administration Course Work Basics
The undergraduate healthcare administration curriculum at top rated online colleges will likely combine liberal arts classes with courses in management theory. Areas of study may also include epidemiology, health law, health finance, and economics. Students will gain the practical skills involved in planning and delivering health services. They will learn about the nation’s healthcare system, as well as the challenges that various types of healthcare organizations face.
Graduate programs differ slightly, as they may be more geared toward preparing students for top-level positions. Some programs allow students to specialize in a particular type of healthcare facility, such as a hospital, a mental health facility, or a group medical practice. Students will learn about managing the finances of healthcare organizations and dealing with employees and patients. They will also learn about the ethical practices and laws that apply to professionals in health and medicine.
- Health Care Systems: This class will cover topics such as health policy, the practices of community health service agencies, current healthcare problems, and present and future trends related to the delivery of healthcare services.
- Health Law: Students will learn about the laws related to the organization and delivery of health services in the United States. They will also be able to recognize current legal issues that arise in the practice of health administration.
- Healthcare Economics: Students will use basic economic concepts, principles, and theories to discuss and debate various healthcare issues.
- Legal and Ethical Aspects of Healthcare: This course examines the legal and ethical issues involved in the management and delivery of healthcare services. Topics covered include negligence, patient rights, the liability of hospital and staff for personal injury to patients, and the disclosure of patient information.
- Organizational Theory & Management: Theories related to leadership, management, and organizational structures will be covered. Students will learn about concepts including strategic management and marketing.
Students will demonstrate competency by participating in class discussions, taking exams, and submitting writing assignments. An internship at a healthcare facility or some kind of professional field experience may be a required component of the program. Regardless of whether or not this is mandatory, students should seek opportunities to attain field experience while still in school.
Careers for the Healthcare Administration Graduate
A bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration will prepare students for entry-level administrative opportunities at hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities, where they may eventually become medical and health service managers. Initially, they may fill positions for administrative assistants or assistant department heads. Individuals must be willing to work their way up the corporate ladder. Eventually, they may attain positions as executive-level administrators, responsible for policy directives, although a graduate degree in healthcare administration may be necessary to move up the ranks. As managers, they may assess the need for services, equipment, and personnel. Students may also want to consider MBA programs that offer a specialization in healthcare administration.
As one of the largest industries, healthcare offers a vast array of professional opportunities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage of medical and health services managers was $96,030 in 2011. However, note that earnings of medical and health services managers can vary significantly based on the type and size of the facility, as well as their level of education and experience. Employment opportunities for medical and health services managers are expected to increase by 22% from 2010 to 2020.